Relapse right after rehab - what to do?



My boyfriend just got home from a 28 day rehab yesterday,. He lives 3 hours away and from his text and our very brief conversations today I know he is drunk. I am in tears and don’t know what to do.

My loved one is coming home

You must feel very disappointed @HRBD I’ve been here before. Not with a boyfriend, but with my mom. It’s like, wait a second. It was supposed to get better from here…? Not back to where we started…
A 28 day program is no small achievement. He should be very proud of that, and I’m sure you are too. And the thing is, everyone can (and should) still be proud of that achievement, even if he has been drinking again.
I’ve been reminded many times, by my mom and counsellors at the rehabs she’s attended, that recovery often takes many “goes”. It’s a hard and disappointing thing to hear when getting to that 28 day program was probably a rocky journey of its own.
Try to stay the course. Keep hope. See if you can get him to share things he learned in the program, what he liked about it, anything he learned about himself. A relapse doesn’t wipe out all the work he’s done, or you’ve done. :heart:


It breaks my heart. So much for his boys and for him. It’s not his first round of rehab. Thank you for the words of encouragement. He’s in such a state right now that I don’t know that he will be ok again until he goes back to rehab. I know that seems crazy after just one day, but this is such a vicious pattern that I’ve seen before. My only saving grace right now is that I am three hours away. It is a saving grace, but also a bit of torture to just wonder. I am grateful to have people here to share with as I don’t know what I’d do with it. Thank you.


@HRBD oh I am so sorry. I’ve been here too with my boyfriend. Just like @Marigold said, relapses are a part of recovery. @polly mentioned in another post that relapses can be moments to get inquisitive and develop some insight. Maybe a learning experience?

Either way, I know how hard it is. I am here for you and I hope you can get an okay sleep tonight and that you and your boyfriend can talk and be open with one another tomorrow


Always here @HRBD. :hugs:


It is heartbreaking and you obviously care so much about him and his boys. But it’s also so good that you recognize that it’s torture to wonder and worry. Don’t put yourself through that @HRBD Do what you can when he’s sober, and take good care of you :heart:


Would love it to be a learning experience and hope it can be. Thank you for your support! It means so much not to feel so alone with this.


It’s hard to be far away I’m sure. My husband relapsed right after rehab. 80-90% of people do!! Let’s focus on how to get him back on track and how to avoid the triggers that lead to it :slight_smile: focusing forward instead of dwelling can help reinforce his self confidence.

Is there anyone more local who could be your ally on the front lines to help support a healthy recovery <3


I am taking the path to protect myself. I told him I am done with him unless he wants to make different choices, but however brave I feel when I tell him that, I still love him and it’s painful to experience. Thank you for your input. It means a lot. This is the first time I have been honest about it all with anyone. And it feels good to share.


He’s so private about what is happening, so there aren’t many people who even know. I really like what you said about focusing forward. We’ve been texted this am and will talk in a little bit. I will use the focus forward approach when speaking with him. Thank you!


Let us know how you get on @HRBD <3


I will @jane! He is on the way to meet with his doctor this am (or so he says), so hopefully he will make good choices today. Focus forward!!


@HRBD (deep sigh)
One foot in front of the other. One step, one day at a time. Sending <3
Give him a little time to recover and let him know you’re here to talk when he is and you’d love to help him keep on the healthy path forward. We’ve got some tools to help plan ahead and be conscious of relapse triggers that might be useful when he’s ready to talk about it with you. But give him a little time - I know that pushing / forcing my agenda when a loved one is feeling shameful about a relapse hasn’t gone well :slight_smile:

Eg. see this little worksheet in this thread


Good steps forward with him this morning after taking your advice and giving him space! It helped me refocus on me and gave him comfort . Thank you again for all the advice. This is all new to me, and I don’t feel so alone any more.


Hi @HRBD, thanks for sharing this and I’m glad to hear that a day later after giving him space you have been able to refocus on you! As many have shared here, relapse can be part of the process, and without a solid aftercare plan following a 28 inpatient stay it’s likely relapse will occur. I love what @Marigold said:

And I really hope you can hold onto this to help keep the hope there!

Here is one way to help you deal with a relapse that may be helpful, and if not, try something else because we’re all about experimentation here :slight_smile:

You can influence how he deals with the experience of returning to drinking after treatment. There’s an important concept developed by a famous addiction researcher who studied relapse, Dr. Alan Marlatt, called the abstinence violation effect (AVE) which is a what happens when a person attempting to abstain lapses (or in this case drinks right after returning from rehab) and endures guilt and conflict by making an internal attribution (“I’m weak”, “I have no willpower”) to explain why he drank, thereby making him more likely to continue using in order to cope with self-blame and shame.

It’s possible that you have your own assumptions as well (“he clearly doesn’t care”) and that is totally okay! However, if you and your boyfriend can work on ways to remain hopeful about the progress he has made, and shared understanding that the process takes time and learning (which may come from relapses) you will both hopefully be in less despair about the situation.

The simple act of reaching out for help has already shown to help you, so keep up the good work and make sure you’re taking care of yourself as well :yellow_heart: